Breathing Space?

I have been thinking about running an intensive training course for teachers, and specifically, about how ‘intense’ it needs to be in order to be helpful (efficient/effective/meaningful, etc.), and… enjoyable. How much can one learn in 4, 5, 6 weeks? What does ‘learn’ mean in this sense?

With these thoughts in mind, I came across a poem called ‘Fire’ by Judy Brown (you can read her post and the complete poem here)


What makes a fire burn

is space between the logs, 

a breathing space.




I refer to this ‘breathing space’ simply as time to think and reflect. Now, the paradox is that it is often an intensive course for teachers, which lacks this time to step back (for a number of reasons, mainly for the course requirements, demanding that course participants have to submit certain number of written assignments, detailed lesson plans, course portfolio, and much more) It suits a certain type of learners, and it depends on how informed the participants are about the nature of the course, and how motivated they are (and again, on many more factors) Making space for ‘breathing’ sometimes means making a work day longer (by inserting more break time, for example, or having 5-minute reflective writing/journaling slots at the end of each session)

I am leaving the questions unanswered for now – especially in the light on an intensive course for teacher trainers/mentors I am going to run later this month. Will keep thinking about making those spaces.

A fire


simply because the space is there…

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict
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8 Responses to Breathing Space?

  1. I’ve thought a lot about this as well, and will continue thinking about it as our course continues. I appreciate you creating this space to think about it together. 🙂


    • Zhenya says:

      Thank you Josette for your comment – and for the connection on this point! Hope your course develops well – looking forward to learning more about it! 🙂


  2. HL says:

    Timely thought Zhenya! There is a certain intensive YL course running at the moment where I work and some trainees have been saying they’d like more time to just think about what they are learning. Funnily enough, I’ve been wondering too about the increased student demand for intensive courses and the consequence on their sense of progress. Hope you find some answers to your question!


    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Helen

      Thank you for stopping by to read and leave your comment. Yes, having more time to think seems to be a need on intensive courses (and as you said, the demand to ‘speed up’ and intensify learning, both for teachers and students, might be the opposite of this idea) ‘More with Less’ could be one of the answers. Will keep thinking! 🙂


  3. Amal says:

    An intensive course can be effective with a group of motivated and self-drive individuals. The processing of information might take place later after the gained skills and knowledge are put into practice and the course material is revisited. What happens in most cases is that one undergoes a course or training but never has to revisit the material. Here we need to ask about how much one has gained or whether what was gained was worth the time and resources put into the course.


    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Amal

      Thank you for reading and commenting (and so glad to welcome you in this learning space!) You are so right about the motivation of the people on a course – during the course, and most importantly, after it finishes. I am wondering if the time to think and reflect during a course might mean more change in one’s teaching/training after?

      One of the big questions for me…

      Thank you for thinking together!


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